. . . and some other poets

And here are some poems by a few other poets…

Drunken Villagers

Anonymous

the guest is drunk
and the host, and the boy
and they sing, and they dance, and they laugh
who cares if you’re thirty or fifty or eighty
you bow politely, and he bows, and l
no boisterous strings or mad flutes here to rush us
we drink with the rolling red sun
till he falls in the West
and pound time on our plates and our saucers and bowls
till they break.

J.P. Seaton

Gazing Afar at Wuzhen Temple

Zhang Ji

Towering above, and facing
                        the gateway of my inn,
The Peak for Gathering Jade links up
                        with hidden Buddhist shrine.
To no purpose, coming, going,
                        riding official horses!
Not allowed a single inch
                        of travel that is mine.

Jonathan Chaves


Written When Drunk

Chang Yueh

Once drunk, my delight knows no limits,
so much better than before I’m drunk.
My movements are all shaped like dances,
and everything I say comes out a poem!

Burton Watson

After Finishing a Poem

Chia Tao

Those two lines cost me three years:
I chant them once, and get two more, of tears.
Friend, if you don’t like them…
I’ll go home, and lie down,
in the ancient mountain autumn.

J.P. Seaton

Quatrain

Choa tao

At the bottom of the ocean: the  moon,
bright moon, round as the wheel of the sky.
Just get a single hand full of this glory…
and you could buy a thousand miles of Spring.

J.P. Seaton

Inscribed on the Wall of the Hut by the Lake

Chiao Jan

If you want to be a mountain dweller…
no need to trek to India to find a mountain…
I’ve got a thousand peaks
to pick from, right here in this lake.
Fragrant grasses, white clouds,
to hold me here.
What holds you there,
world-dweller?

J.P. Seaton

The Shih Ching , usually translated as either The Book of Songs or the Classic of Poetry, is the first great collection of Chinese poetry. Tradition says that it was edited into its present form by the Sage of Sages, Confucius himself. In fact the book was assembled before, during, and after the life of Confucius. Its more than three hundred poems include fragments of works as old as the Shang Dynasty (traditional; dates 1766-1154 BCE) as well as “contemporary” poems from the Chou feudal states written or spoken by both aristocratic court figures and just plain “folks”. A great deal has been said about the origin of many, if not the majority of the poems as oral “folk” art, but it is clear from the artistry of the written language in which they have been handed down that, like the scribes who improved upon the originally oral poetry attributed to “Homer” in the West to create the Iliad and the Odyssey, the people who converted Chou folk songs and court verses into poetry in written Chinese characters clearly thought of themselves as (and were) artists. So the characters used to render simple and direct lyrical utterances of the illiterate peasant folk often honor them with carefully chosen written vocabulary: the heart and soul of folk art remains clearly present, but literary subtleties are introduced. The scribes who created the Shih Ching were poets, not tape recorders. They chose the best of what existed, and they honored it with their own art.

In its present form, the Shih Ching consists of three major sections, the Kuo Feng, or Odes of the States, comprising 160 of the 300 are generally but not always folk songs. The Ya (Elegant Verses) subdivided with no obvious criteria into greater and lesser, include poems 161-265, and the Sung or Temple Odes high ritual songs and bits of dynastic myth, include poems 266-305. The present selection is comes, all but a single longer poem on drinking and its positive and negative consequences from the “Lesser Elegants”, all come from the Kuo Feng Sections.

Knowledge of the Shih Ching poems was a necessity of diplomatic practice around the time of Confucius, when it was a common practice to deliver or at least support the delivery of diplomatic messages among the feudal domains (the “States or Guo of the Guo Feng) by oral presentation of relevant lines from the Classic. From the Han on many of the poems where imbued with very specific allegorical interpretations, but it is clear that later poets, who memorized the book word for word, used it as allusive material in their own poems at least as often for its plain “folk” messages as for its orthodoxly approved allegorical ones.